|The exchanges may seem superficial and distant; we are not necessarily meeting face to face. However, when you are the sole person situated on a sidewalk, carrying a sign that speaks to love and not war, people look at you.
They wave, smile, honk, or extend their fingers in a sign of triumphant tranquility. Tears well-up inside me as I experience the responses. As I hold my banner high and my digits higher, I work not to cry. I am often overwhelmed by my feelings. The public's response is inspiring.
The whole has its effect; however, the parts consume me. The two young teens crossing the street declare, "If I had a horn, I would honk." They affirm their agreement. They want the troops out of Iraq and believe working together for a common cause worldwide is essential.
The man riding by on his bicycle stops. He stays for a long time. This gentle soul maintains a physical distance; however, he is enveloped. His face glows; this chap cannot conceal his excitement. He beams and smiles. Then, he silently slips away. His expressions reveal that his heart was filled.
Then there are the frequent and quiet exchanges. Inaudible loving words mouthed as I gaze into the faces of a driver, a passenger, or a car full of people. These are numerous and uplifting. The muted tones wow me as do those that I could not, or would not predict.
The man that appears to be quite affluent sits in his new Mercedes Benz convertible. The traffic light changes. He approaches my corner. His top is down. His skin is golden and tan. This chap is very well dressed. His hair coiffed, although, blowing gently and gracefully in the breeze. I wonder; will he scorn my presence, scoff, or deliver a stern message. No, he does none of these. He looks in my direction. He grins, offers the peace sign, and then, almost as an after thought as he proceeds forward, honks his horn.
It is an oddity, an enigma, to me. Each week I walk to "work." I have a "job" to do. I receive no pay. Yet, I am rewarded. I am deeply committed to the cause. I feel as if I have a purpose as I stand before the people beseeching them to work towards ending conflict. I pursue this passion with vigor. I would not wish to be late. My work is gratifying, satisfying, and stimulating. It puts no money in the bank. Nevertheless, it fills my heart and mind. For me, there is nothing like watching peace grow.
A wave of sound vibrates through the air. Often, I can hear cars more than a block away tooting their horns in anticipation. They know what they are fast approaching. They have traveled these crossroads on many a Saturday.
The junction is in the center of town. It is a bustling place. Numerous vehicles race pass me as I stand. Some automobiles move slowly. They want to read my sign. Words of affirmation are exchanged. Drivers do not always beep. Some gesture signs of support. It fascinates me. I never know what to expect or from whom.
The city bus drivers usually sound their horns. Only once did a transit worker ignore me. Parcel truck operators from nationally renowned companies often hoot. Each week I see suppliers for grocers drive by in their eighteen wheelers. They never fail to salute and show their loud approval. These people are not merely praying for peace; they are speaking their minds, honking their hearts out.
What I find most interesting is that the young, the old, the disabled, those that appear extremely wealthy, and those of lesser means all join in. Some are vocal; others shy. Couples chant out together. At times, only one person in the car calls to get my attention. Very few shun me. Fewer scream out in disgust. Even automobiles with the American flag placed prominently on their window or bumper proudly point at me and say "Peace!" "Bring our troops home now."
As I stand in solitude, I recognize a power that I am less aware of when with my compatriots. Typically when with other activist we chat. ; We make eye contact with each other. We address the persons as they drive by; however, I realize the interaction with motor vehicle drivers is not the same. It is more intense, and such a delight to share in one-on-one.
Today, a woman in the passenger seat of a car flashed a sign of good will. I nodded and said thank you. She smiled broadly. We were literally inches apart from each other. Mutually, our hearts were warmed. Acknowledgment is much appreciated.
On numerous occasions, a vehicle on the far side of the street will beep and beep while waiting for the traffic flow to change. I have come to realize, they want my attention. Me, a small, little insignificant, and unknown person curbside can change the way they feel about the world.
Often, a person, or many individuals will wave and wave, toot. and toot, until I turn, look at them directly, and acknowledge their participation. It is important that they know I see only them. Once I recognize a person that was anxious to express their beliefs, offer them a nod, direct my hand motions toward them, and say aloud "Thank you!" they go on. They, as we all only need to be understood, heard, cared about and cared for.
I often wonder, if warriors were to meet and greet each other as individuals, not as enemies, if they were to see the face of their foe would they be able to shoot, to maim, or murder this person? Might the human being, a few feet from them, be more real, if they could or would look into their eyes.
Exchanging glances, being aware of the gestures, and allowing yourself to connect in an authentic way is so very powerful. It is so pleasurable.
Perchance, if combat did not take place on fields, if soldiers did not bare arms, but held signs, or spoke softly, the quality of the exchange would change. If the troops stood toe-to-toe and gazed into the visage of those they disagree with, might they chat before they bomb each other to smithereens.
Oh to think, if our adversaries had a face, a place in our heart, might the world be a more peaceful delightful space. If only, we would try to engage rather than do battle. Iraqi, Afghanis, and Americans alike could stand on the corner, serenely, sanguine, watching all the girls and guys go by.